Little noticed in all of the continuing fiscal-cliff hullabaloo today, the Obama administration held their annual White House Tribal Nations Conference with the Department of Interior on Wednesday — and if ever there was a specific, targeted example of the long-term results perpetuated by the type of persistent big-government help the Obama administration wants to keep going, America’s Indian reservations are it.
Over the past four years, through tribal consultation and the White House Tribal Nations Conferences, President Obama and his Administration have worked to ensure that tribal leaders are directly involved in setting policy priorities. Today, President Obama is hosting the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of Interior.
This conference continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government to government relationship with Indian Country, by providing invited leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration. In conjunction with today’s event, the White House released a report, “Continuing the Progress in Tribal Communities,” that examines the President’s agenda and how this Administration, by working together with tribes, has made a difference for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The report highlights:
- How the Administration has partnered with tribal leaders and taken action to support infrastructure and workforce development to drive economic growth. These actions include expanding access to broadband under the Recovery Act; providing Federal loan guarantees; investing millions of dollars in businesses in Indian Country; building the capacity of Native Community Development Financial Institutions; and supporting the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- How the Affordable Care Act, which permanently authorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, is working to improve the quality of health care and making it more accessible and affordable for all Americans, including Native Americans.
- How the Administration is working to improve education from cradle to career in tribal communities, including implementation of an Executive Order President Obama signed in December 2011 establishing the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education to help expand educational opportunities and improve outcomes for these communities.
- How the Administration has worked to make tribal communities safer, through implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2010.
- How the Administration has taken steps in support of tribal self-determination, including President Obama signing into law the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act in July of this year.
As I wrote after this same conference last year, the Obama administration (like the administrations before them) is never short of showy ideas for the ways in which they’re going to “help” America’s tribal Indians, yet somehow, nothing on Indian reservations ever seems to actually progress. Indian reservations have been under the government’s thumb for centuries, and yet many of the most miserable, poorest areas in America with the lowest standards of living and life expectancies are on Indian reservations.
The inconsistent rule of law, the many regulations, the insecure property rights — in short, many of the ingredients necessary for doing business and economic growth — mean that reservations are more like enclaves of socialism scattered among a land of plenty than sovereign nations. American Indian tribes together are the largest landholders in the United States, and their lands are sources of abundant natural resources like oil, gas, timber, and minerals — but the government holds many of their lands “in trust,” cough cough.
The federal government, however, has never been in the business of eliminating the need for government, so they’ll keep the welfare checks coming and never make the suggestion that Indian tribes privatize their land — despite President Obama’s 2008 pledge to end the practice of “lip service to working with tribes while taking a one-size-fits-all approach with tribal communities across the nation.” Yeah, right.
President Barack Obama spoke to the White House Tribal Nations Conference of Native American groups at the Interior Department Wednesday. The chairman of the conference, Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Nation, reportedly suggested that Obama is the first “American Indian” president.
“Think about it for a second,” Cladoosby said, according to the pool report. “The president loves basketball. He has an Indian name, he knows what it’s like to be poor and he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. And his theme song is ‘Hail to the Chief.’ I think he definitely qualifies as the first American Indian president.”